Category Archives: Adventurous

Casco Viejo – My Favorite ‘Hood in Panama City, Panama

Yup, it’s been a month since I posted something. I’m just going to pretend that gap of time didn’t happen, and continue blogging with some thoughts about our trip to Panama…

Our impression of the city was unexpected. I imagined a booming metropolis. I had read a New York Times article from April 2011 that said there were 30 skyscrapers under construction. I also thought the American influence/presence related to the canal would have heightened development. Then, after flying in and seeing the skyline, I really thought this would be a mini Chicago or New York City.

Turns out, I was wrong. Yes, the skyline is impressive (mostly residential), and there are lots of buildings under construction. However, I didn’t find the city to be that dynamic. With the exception of Casco Viejo (which I’ll get to later), there were no cute neighborhoods or shopping districts to explore. Getting around the city on foot was not possible. The only mass transit system was the bus, and it was way too hot for us to want to attempt that. Apparently they’re building a subway.

So, all in all, it seemed like Panama City might be on its way. But it’s definitely not what I would consider a booming metropolis at the moment. It’s a very large Central American city that is going through a growth spurt.

We did enjoy spending some time in the Casco Viejo Neighborhood. They call this the “old city.” Architectural character galore. Like the “new city,” it’s going through its own rebirth. There’s a huge contrast between old and new.

There are several squares, some nice restaurants, heladerias, boutiques and coffee shops. There are also buildings in complete ruin that are nearly crumbling to the ground, saved by the steel beams that support their collapsing walls. There are some streets that give you a very sketchy vibe. Not unsafe, but maybe not comfortable.

We traversed the neighborhood on cobblestone streets and narrow roads/sidewalks and ducked in to a few shops and restaurants.

Here’s a cute boutique we visited. It’s called Espacio Vintage, and it’s adorable. I would’ve bought LOTS of things if I knew I 1) didn’t have room in my suitcase and 2) didn’t have a huge list of baby stuff to buy. If you go to Casco Viejo, visit this shop. It was off Avenida A, but I’m not recalling the cross street.

We got Emily one of these bracelets, which was painted by a local artist. Same artist that painted the murals on the walls of the shop (inside and out).

We also went shopping at Diablo Rosso, which is off Avenida A and Calle 7. It’s another good stop if you go to Casco Viejo. Cute boutique, art gallery and cafe all in one.

A dress made out of felt balls! =)

We got a shirt here for Matthew, as a thank you for taking care of our Lola girl.

And then, lunch. We ate at La rosa de los Vientos, off Calle Octava. It was a very nice Italian place that looks out over the waterfront. Great pizza. They had an outdoor patio, but we opted to eat indoors since they hadn’t lifted the umbrellas yet.

This little guy entertained us during lunch while playing with a balloon in the street outside.

And then, more walking through the neighborhood. This area was probably my favorite spot in all of Panama City, and I’d highly recommend visiting if you go to Panama.

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Adventures in the Pearl Islands

We went island hopping today. We’re staying on Isla Contadora, in the Pearl Islands off the coast of Panama. Today, we got to see a few of the other islands nearby. Here’s a pic of Barb and Jim on our boat.

Our first stop was on Mogo Mogo island (I think that’s the name…), where season 7 of Survivor was filmed. We snorkeled there for about an hour. The island is uninhabited, except for a police (aka coast guard) station. The coral was really pretty, and we saw a ton of fish…including a porcupine puffer and an eel. One cute little fish was tagging along close to Brady’s hip for a good 10 – 15 minutes. Here’s a picture of the bay where we snorkeled.

Then we stopped on another nearby island. I forget the name. It didn’t have any trees, and provided good picture opps. We walked around and collected some shells.

Here’s a pic of Brady and I on our third island stop. More exploring and shell collecting. We also swam a bit on the beach here. The water was perfect. By the way, I’m loving swimming in the ocean. I’m weightless and love it. As soon as I get out of the water, gravity hits and my back starts hurting again. Boooo.

Not sure what I’ll do with the shells yet. I collected orange and white ones…maybe they’ll go somewhere in the baby’s room.

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Mola From Panama

At the market in El Valle de Anton (El Valle), Panama, I found an awesome mola for the nursery. Molas are traditional garments that are made by the indigenous women (the Kunas) of Panama and Columbia. They are hand-stiched cut-outs with many layers and vibrant colors.

We had passed many stands with molas during our first few days in Panama City. I love buying unique things from places we visit, and I was thinking a mola would be great to bring back, but I didn’t know what I’d do with one at first. The colors are so bright and vibrant, which is what makes them beautiful, but they don’t really go with our style or decor.

In El Valle, we had some time to kill, so we visited the local market and I took some time going through a stack of molas. The women who made them showed them each to me. She was very sweet and I tried my best to communicate with her through broken spanish.

I tried to tell her I was looking for an owl. I had no idea what the word for “owl” was. But, through some hand motions and hoots, I finally got it across. =) I had a few options to choose from, and ended up picking this one.

Not a great picture of the one I chose, but hopefully you get the idea. I like the abstract/geometric design and that orange is the main color. I’m going to turn it into a pillow…probably with a chevron pattern backing. It’ll go with all of the other geometric patters that we’re putting into the nursery, and it’ll be a story to tell Baby once he/she understands. We hit the third trimester mark tomorrow, and this baby has already been to two international locations (plus many others). =)

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Hola From Panama

Hello from Panama! We’ve been here since Saturday. Spent the first few days exploring Panama City, and now we’re on Isla Contadora, part of the Pearl Islands off the Pacific Coast of the country.

Here are some pics from the first few days.

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Hut Trip Near Aspen – Benedict Fabi’s

Continuing my attempt to embrace winter…

Last weekend we went on a hut trip with two other couples. We went to the 10th Mountain Division’s Benedict Fabi Hut, near Aspen. It was a really good time. It was cold and snowy, but not enough to deter us.

We had a six-mile hike up and a six-mile hike back. Going up was brutal. There really wasn’t a break in the climbing. It took us a solid six hours to get to the top – that time includes several pit stops and an extended break for lunch. From the main parking lot (the lower one), we clocked total milage on the way up to be 6.08 miles.

Not having hiked anything significant in a while, this was really tough for me and my ever-shrinking lung capacity. Plus, the weight of my pack, the extra weight of me and my changing body didn’t help matters. My pack doesn’t fit anymore, which I found out as we were putting on gear. The hip strap doesn’t fasten, meaning the weight of the pack isn’t distributed properly. My hip flexers ended up carrying most of the weight and KILLED towards the top. Brady was a trooper and really helped me through. It’s so frustrating not being myself!! Everyone else did great, though.

The hut is uber-cute. It’s one of the newer ones…built in 2004.

If you go, I’d recommend printing out directions from hutski.com. And getting several maps. Those were our resources, and between them all we found our way just fine. However, I will say that no one set of directions out there is comprehensive. Even the directions from hutski can be a bit unclear on their own.

Here are a few pics of the trip.

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Embracing Winter

It’s officially winter. And so far, I’ve been embracing it. There’s extreme coziness to snuggling up indoors and knitting/crocheting/quilting (which I love), but I don’t think anything is more invigorating than bundling up and heading outdoors to enjoy the beauty of winter.

A few weeks ago, I headed up to Glenwood Springs with a few friends for a girls weekend. It was fabulous. We stayed in a hostel, which meant cramming five of us into a space that’s smaller than an average dorm room. But it was fun and felt a lot like camp…late-night ghost stories included.

Here’s a view from my top bunk. That’s as wide as our mini hallway got. If this picture doesn’t make you feel claustrophobic, I’m not sure what would…

We headed out for a hike on both Saturday and Sunday. Both times, we went to the Hanging Lake trail. Snowshoes not necessary, although we did battle some snow/ice on the trail. On Saturday, we got too late of a start to finish, so that’s what we set out to do on Sunday. Here are some pictures from the adventure. It was so nice to get outdoors and break a sweat in the freezing cold. It’s like telling the cold “ha, you can’t get me, you can’t bring me down.” Or something like that.

Beaver!

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Winter Park Weekend

Brady and I spent the weekend in Winter Park. It was a great getaway. Very relaxing. We got to visit with B’s sister, do some hiking and sleep in. 🙂

We had planned to hike near Grand Lake, which goes into Rocky Mountain National Park. We got to the trailhead, and were reminded by signs that RMNP doesn’t allow dogs on trails. Boooooo. So, we walked around Grand Lake a bit and had lunch.

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Then, we tried another local hike. Turns out it was more of a forest walk than a hike. We were tucked in the trees the whole time (no views) and didn’t really break a sweat (no climbing). I wasn’t really a fan. Didn’t even take any photos.

We stayed at the Zephyr Mountain Lodge. We’ve never seen the resort so vacant. It was a bit eerie, but also really nice and quiet.

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We stayed on the 7th floor. Lola was with us, which meant lots of walks and trips up and down the elevator. Whew! Confirmation that we’ll never live in a high-rise with a dog.

Here’s Lola, waiting for a walk.

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